Thursday Comics Hangover: Too beautiful for this world

Aside from Ms. Marvel, my favorite Marvel title these days is Nick Fury, a spy comic written by James Robinson and drawn by the acronymical comics artist ACO. Fury is unlike just about everything else Marvel is putting out these days: every issue is its own stand-alone adventure, every page is visually adventurous, and the book isn't interested in crossovers or events.

Fury is a smart callback to the stylish Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD book that Jim Steranko drew for Marvel during the late 1960s. It's not an homage, or a rigid tribute book: instead, it imagines what those SHIELD books would look like if they were drawn today. The result is a splashy, vivid, wildly attractive book that feels like a rich hit of pure comic joy. (Of course, Fury is not as subversive as Steranko's run, which still stands as some of the sexiest issues published by a mainstream American comics publisher. Fury is, unfortunately, rather sexless.)

The most recent issue of Fury, number 6, was published yesterday, and it continues the formula established in the previous five issues: Fury is on a mission in some exotic locale (this time he's in gothic Scotland) and he tangles with evil agents of Hydra. There's a plot twist that's so easy to predict it must have been planned that way, but that's not really what the book is about, in any case.

Robinson seems to have smartly designed this book to show off what ACO can do. A two-page spread reveals a hummming "Hydra enclave" buried underground, and ACO depicts a buzzing base full of drones and weird laser devices and all kinds of mysterious tanks full of evil stuff being carted around. Later, ACO delights in taking the whole base apart, piece by piece, as Fury unravels their plans. I haven't stared this intently at pages of art from one of the big two publishers in a very long time. Here's a spread from an earlier issue of the comic, which shows Fury examining every possible threat on a wide-open casino floor:

Unfortunately, the last page of Fury delivers some bad, if predictable, news: number 6 is the final issue. It figures: Fury was too beautiful to live in this world. Hopefully, ACO will land a gig that offers the superstar status he deserves. Until then, lovers of over-the-top spy fiction will have to keep their spirits up with the trade paperback collecting every issue of Nick Fury, which is due out this December.